Posted in allegory, Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

February 2007: The Man Who Was Thursday

The next book choice for the Librarium is G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. The subtitle to this book, which is A Nightmare, gives only the slightest hint at the strange twists and turns that Chesterton takes the reader through until coming to a conclusion that seems to have come out of nowhere.

I don’t want to use the word allegory or any such nonsense. All I can say about this book is that Chesterton has a way of making a seemingly simple and poetic period detective story and turning it into a kind of treatise on creation (and more).

I recommend reading the introduction to the book. In the right-hand column of the page for the book, you’ll find a treasury of essays and critiques written on the novel, ranging from the early 1900’s and on. I would recommend, however, reading the actual book first to avoid spoilers.

Other related Links:

Discussion questions (provided by the Modern Library edition):

  • What is the Council’s objective throughout the book? Do you think it ultimately represents Good or Evil? Is such a distinction possible, in Chesterton’s view?
  • Discuss the Council’s role as a secret society. What is important about their ability to function as a group and their determination to keep their activities secret? What is the point of their conspiracy?
  • What is the meaning of the book’s title? Is personal identity less important than collective identity, in Chesterton’s view? Does Syme, in effect, lose his identity? What does he gain?
  • Who, or what, does Sunday represent?


Artist, writer, and pilot. Consumer of oxygen.

2 thoughts on “February 2007: The Man Who Was Thursday

  1. Hi Julie,

    I just happened onto your blog while searching about something for GKC’s fine novel. I’m re-reading the story now for the first time in several years. It’s as good as I remembered. I have my own theory about it, but I don’t think GKC was being totally honest when he spoke about the book in his autobiography. I think Sunday did indeed represent God, but in an uncertain world where God may not be what we think he is. “What if this is the way God really is?”, was the nightmarish aspect of it. What if, when all is said and done, and the world finished, we find a God and an afterlife that’s nothing like what anyone expects? Is anything really real? Does everything exist in the mind of a God who is more mischevous than anything else?

  2. Hi Julie,

    I’ve been a fan of this book for a long time and it still inspires me in understanding my own faith.

    I’m not sure who said it first but I believe that Sunday doesnt represent God, but the backside of God… through Jesus we see the mercy of God and humanity of God, the face of God. Sunday is not that .. but the soveriegn side.. the powerful side… the backside of God. When Moses wanted to see God … he was told he can only see the backside of God and that if he was hid in a cave of a mountain it would protect him from the power of God.

    the terrible side of God.. that allows suffering but ultimately rules over it.

    …when Gabe first saw him , he saw him from behind and i thought he was a monster but when he saw his face he knew there could be no evil in him.

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